In the absence of effective, approved drugs or vaccines, vector control remains the only means of intervention for many against mosquito-borne diseases. This problem grows more complex with the recent establishment of multiple exotic mosquito species and mosquito-borne pathogens. Furthermore, changing climate conditions are predicted to alter the traditional range for native mosquitoes. A notable example is Aedes albopictus, the Asian Tiger mosquito, introduced into the USA in the mid-1980s, this invasive species has spread throughout the southeast, and with warmer winters, its range is now moving into New York and other northern states, where it has become the primary biting mosquito. A stable infestation was discovered in California in 2011, which persists despite an ongoing elimination campaign. The cryptic biology of this mosquito makes it difficult to find and treat using traditional insecticidal approaches. In addition to its importance as a biting nuisance A. albopictus is a competent vector of over twenty pathogens. Epidemiological models show risk of returning travelers, infected with chikungunya virus, infecting A. albopictus and starting local transmission. This hypothesized event would be similar to recent epidemics that have occurred in Europe, India, Sri Lanka and La Reunion. Our discussions with major mosquito control districts around the country (California, Florida, New York) demonstrate the need and commercial opportunity for new approaches against A. albopictus and an interest in the our product. Our Phase I results demonstrate feasibility of a Wolbachia biopesticide approach. Repeated releases of Wolbachia- infected males cause a form of conditional sterility, capable of eliminating an A. albopictus population within eight weeks. In the proposed Phase II work, we will continue the research and development of the Wolbachia biopesticide approach, with the major goals of (1) demonstrating a prototype mass production unit, (2) providing field performance data for Wolbachia-infected A. albopictus males, and (3) measuring the pesticidal effect of Wolbachia- infected A. albopictus males against an indigenous field population.
Effective control tools are needed against the invasive disease vector mosquito Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger mosquito). Contained trials in Phase I have shown that the repeated release of males infected with Wolbachia bacteria can cause sterility and eliminate A. albopictus populations. The proposed Phase II work will (1) demonstrate efficacy of the control approach in the field against an established population and (2) improve product production to improve the overall production levels and reduce downstream cost.